Examining the factors that contribute to human longevity using a life-course perspective (postdoctoral grant)

PI: Debora Rizzuto, debora.rizzuto@ki.se

Our knowledge about risk and protective factors related to human longevity—including health status, lifestyle, and genetic factors—is growing and becoming more nuanced. For instance, research shows that lifestyle factors can modulate the effects of gene variants related to all-cause mortality. It also suggests that risk and protective factors may be particularly important at certain points during the life course. The challenge now is to understand how the complex interplay among genetic, biological factors, and environmental exposures experienced over the entire lifespan influences longevity.

In this postdoctoral project, I am using 2 large population-based cohorts, the Swedish National study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen to pursue the following aims: 1) Determine the relative importance of changes in lifestyle factors at various times across the life course (i.e. adulthood, old age) survival. 2) Test the compression of morbidity hypothesis, which proposes that healthy lifestyles can reduce and compress disability into a shorter period toward the end of life. 3) Investigate variation in genes associated with diseases that have a clear impact on survival or with mechanisms that might influence lifespan and ascertain whether this effect is the same at various ages. 4) Integrate the different risk and protective factors in a summary score to predict how long a person will live.

The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life, and Welfare (Forte).